Smarties, meet our newest blogger, Zack Budzichowski! We are SO THRILLED to have a Smarty DAD join our team. And there is no one better than Zack B. (that’s what I call him since I can’t always remember the right way to pronounce his last name! :-))
Zack will be bringing you tips, tricks, and insights from a dad’s perspective. He certainly will have a lot to say – he’s been a stay-at-home dad for ten years, has four kids and loads of experience. He embraces his role as stay-at-home dad with smarts, logic, and humor. Clearly, he and his wife are doing something right because their four kids are some of the smartest and most polite I’ve ever met. Seriously. His oldest is probably smarter than I am (the others will catch up in no time) – take a good look at their faces because those kids are going places. Zack and his lovely wife, Laura (who is AMAZING herself) should be very proud of their family – and we’re very proud that we can now call Zack our first Smarty Dad blogger!
Smarties, meet Zack Budzichowski!
Zack’s Smarty Stats:
Married to: Laura Budzichowski (15 years)
Children: Amy (9), Kelly (7), Kevin (5) and Claire (2)
Years in Charlotte: 11
Hometown: Irmo, SC
‘Hood: South Charlotte
Alma Mater: Notre Dame
What was your career pre-kids? I actually had two careers: For two years right after college, I was a high school teacher/coach at a small catholic school (190 students in Grades 6-12) on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi as part of a service program. I taught nine different math/science/computer classes and was the head coach for two varsity sports (girls soccer and boys baseball) and JV football briefly (great story). After that, I put my mechanical engineering degree to work as an automotive and product development engineer for a Tier 1 supplier in Detroit for five years. I learned all about efficiency and getting rid of waste through ‘Lean Manufacturing’ and ‘Kaizen’ which has served me well at home…not exactly.
When did you and your wife decide for you to stay home? When she was in law school.
Did you instantly know that staying home was the right decision for you and your family, or did it take some getting used to? I liked taking care of my daughter right away. As a math geek and engineer, I’m all about pattern recognition so I approached it with that mindset and it was a fun challenge to learn my kids’ patterns. I was pretty good at it. I had all these crazy/odd routines (feed-burp-exercise-nap) that worked great for me, but no one else could replicate them no matter how detailed my instructions or how hard they tried.
What surprised you most when you decided to quit your job and “father” 100% of the day? That for the first ten years, I really had no time to myself. Our youngest child started preschool this year (a full year before her siblings did – I feel a small amount of guilt), so I can finally complete a thought. Yes!
You’ve got three girls and one boy. Be honest: how long did it take you to master the French braid? Honestly, I still can’t do a French Braid or braids of any flavor. The girls complained it was too painful for me to learn on their heads. My oldest is pretty good at them, though, so she does them for her sisters. While braids are not my thing, I did sew an awesome St. Clare costume from scratch a couple years ago that made the front page of the St. Gabriel church bulletin. Coming off that success, I decided being a contestant on a future season of Project Runway is my ‘stretch goal’.
What’s your fave part of being a stay-at-home dad? Being outside for hours at a time with the kids most days.
Most challenging part? Keeping up with laundry for four kids.
People must make comments to you – what’s the funniest or strangest thing someone has said when you’ve been out with the kids? I take all four kids out shopping all the time and my favorite comment from random strangers is, “They must look just like their mother.” They actually do look a lot like her, but still that’s an odd comment.
Real men wear pink ‘n green. What are you most looking forward to as a Smarty blogger? Taking the time to think through my experiences of the last ten years and write some of them down. I hope to redeem myself in the eyes of my AP English teacher. I was her first student ever not to pass the AP English test (I got a 2). I still feel guilty for breaking her streak.
Favorite fall activity with the family? Attending high school football games.
Best date night restaurant in Charlotte? That assumes I leave my house without the kids.
Fave sports team? Notre Dame Anything and the Chicago Cubs
Last book you read? I read LOTS of children’s books everyday (20 min/day for four kids)! As a result, I don’t read grown-up books much anymore, but the last one was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
Stay-at-home dad’s secret weapon? When in doubt, wrestle! Once or twice a week after school we hold WWF wrestling matches in the living room, kids versus dad. It’s a lot of fun and they get some energy out. Of course, we go until someone gets hurt or starts crying. 🙂
What one piece of advice will you give your kids when they graduate from college? Ideally, I would be able to tell them to follow their passion or some nonsense like that, but given the cost of college and having four kids, I think I will most likely advise them to be sure to repay their loans on time.
Thanks, Zack, and welcome to the Smarty team!!